Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, April 05, 2013

Pre-K Won't Help Kids

President Obama ended his State of the Union speech on a warm-and-fuzzy note by calling for Pre-K programs for almost all children. The best thing he could do for pre-kindergarten children is to make sure he doesn’t hang trillions of dollars of debt around their necks, but that isn’t the route he is taking. Instead, Obama wants to provide government daycare for nearly all preschoolers. He doesn’t call it daycare or baby-sitting (which is a more accurate term), he calls it early childhood education. That means programs for kids from birth to age three, a massively expanded Head Start for four-year-olds available to every child, and full-day kindergarten for all.

The proclaimed purpose of Pre-K Ed is to close the gap between kids from high-income and low-income households. The defect in Obama’s announcement is that there is no evidence that Pre-K schooling can or will accomplish that – it’s not a program “that works.”

Obama likes to say he is guided by “the science,” and he claims that “study after study” shows every dollar of Pre-K “investment” (that’s the liberals’ synonym for taxes) saves seven dollars later on. Obama’s falsehood is easily refuted. The federal program called Head Start was created in 1965 as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. It has been running nearly 50 years, now costing $23,000 per student, and incurring a total expense of $150 billion, but it still does not provide promised benefits. His own Department of Health and Human Services did an important Head Start Impact Study tracking the progress of 3- and 4-year-olds from entering Head Start through kindergarten and first grade, and then a follow-up study on the students’ performance through the end of the third grade. But all studies show that Head Start and all the early interventions do not achieve what they promised, and any benefits “fade out” by the third grade.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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